O’Ban: Parties responsible for Amtrak 501 derailment need to be held accountable

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, issued the following statement in response to the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) two-day investigative hearing into rail safety and the Dec. 18, 2017, derailment of Amtrak 501 that occurred near DuPont, Wash.

“The saddest part about this tragedy is that it could have been avoided altogether. After listening to testimony from the Washington State Department of Transportation, Amtrak and Sound Transit, it is clear that Amtrak did not provide adequate training to staff. Also, Sound Transit limited when the track could be used for training and along with other agencies, signed off on a corridor safety plan stating that the curve causing the derailment was initially considered an ‘unacceptable risk,’ but was downgraded to an ‘undesirable risk’ through recommendations of staff training, signage and permanent speed restrictions. Positive train control would have reduced the risk of the corner more significantly. These groups did not do enough to ensure the safety of the passengers on Amtrak 501.

“It is my hope that upon the conclusion of its investigation, the NTSB will hold accountable those responsible for the events that led to the loss of life in my district.

“The victims’ families and my constituents deserve accountability from the appropriate personnel and agencies that caused this accident.”